Exploring Difference: Strategies to Make University Teaching Count

Embassy of Canada, Berlin, 1. December 2014 13:00 bis 20:00

The series International Dialogue on Education is a joint initiative of the British Council, the German Academic Ex­change Service (DAAD), the German-American Fulbright Commission, the Embassy of Canada in Germany and Freie Universität Berlin. Through the contributions of international participants the series aims to enrich the debate on science, research and higher education policy in Germany, to place German perspectives in a global context and to learn from positive examples from other countries.

The eleventh conference in the ID-E Berlin series focused on teaching excellence in higher education. The discussions addressed the following topics and questions:

1. Institutional strategies: challenges and demands

  • Do universities need a general teaching strategy? And how would you develop it?
  • Do we need subject-specific teaching concepts in universities?
  • Do you distinguish between teaching and learning strategies?
  • Does teaching count in research intensive universities? (for promotion, recognition, career…)
  • What can presidents, rectors and deans do to support good teaching? (rewards, incentives, support structures…)
  • Is there such a thing as a “tool box” for best practice at your institution?
  • Do we need a more drastic cultural change within research universities to move towards a recognition of teaching excellence?

2. Improving teaching

  • Does graduate education prepare academics to become good teachers? And do university professors want to be taught how to teach?
  • How to align curriculum, pedagogy and – not to forget – assessment?
  • How do you deal with the increasing heterogeneity of the student body? Do we e. g.  have to make provisions for international students with different learning cultures?
  • Do you differentiate between teaching in Bachelor’s and Master’s programs?
  • Which role do alternative models play – such as collaborative teaching, research internships, mentoring models or interdisciplinary classes?
  • The question of evaluation: How do you best assess teaching practice? And how do you measure learning outcomes?

3. General questions and national frameworks

  • Is the question of good university teaching “en vogue” again and why?
  • Is it necessary to establish national bodies to support teaching excellence?
  • What about national recognition schemes for teaching (with funding attached)?
  • Do we need more specific scholarship of Teaching and Learning in HE?

Drawing on examples from their own education systems and institutions, a detailed under­standing of the different challenges and new developments in HE Teaching has been elicited from our experts from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, the Netherlands and Germany.

The event was followed by the award ceremony of the “Ars legendi-Preis für exzellente Hochschullehre and, on Tuesday, December 2, by the conference on HE teaching Gemeinsame Sache machen! Im Gespräch mit den Akteuren der Lehre an Hochschulen, organised by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft at the same venue (Embassy of Canada).